Committee requests $18K in new parking meters for Athol

Main Street in downtown Athol. The Oversight Committee formed for the Downtown Parking Benefits District is requesting $31,000 at Town Meeting, a large portion of which will be used to replace five parking meters on Main Street and another 15 on Exchange Street. 

Main Street in downtown Athol. The Oversight Committee formed for the Downtown Parking Benefits District is requesting $31,000 at Town Meeting, a large portion of which will be used to replace five parking meters on Main Street and another 15 on Exchange Street.  FILE PHOTO

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-28-2024 5:01 PM

ATHOL – Four years ago, Town Meeting voters approved creation of a Downtown Parking Benefits District (DPBD), with the stipulation that an Oversight Committee be created to decide how funds collected from parking meters will be spent.

This will mark the first year that the committee is asking voters at the Annual Town Meeting to approve an expenditure of funds from the DPBD – nearly $31,000. As of Feb. 10, the district’s account contained just over $26,100, but it’s expected that meter receipts from March through the end of June will cover the amount the committee is seeking to spend.

Of the amount requested by the committee, just over $18,600 will be invested in meter maintenance. At a recent meeting of the committee, Planning and Development Director Eric Smith said that there are a number of meters that need to be fixed—approximately 20 meters costing $745 apiece, for a total of $14,907.60. Smith said that Athol Police Lt. Ron Cote had informed him in February that there are approximately 15 meters on Exchange Street and another five on Main Street that need to be replaced.

“So, we’ve got 20 meters that are no good,” said Andy Sudjak, the Selectboard’s representative on the committee. “Shouldn’t we buy 25 meters in case one is wiped out by a delivery truck or some other way?”

Smith said that this could be done, which brings the total price for 25 meters to $18,600. The committee is also asking for $8,400 to cover the bulk of the parking ambassador’s salary. Another $2,000 from the police department will bring the salary up to $10,400, providing $20 per hour for 10 hours a week.

The Oversight Committee voted in November to hire Athol resident Paul Landry as parking ambassador, the person charged with checking meters and ticketing vehicles parked at expired meters. He officially began his duties in early December. Committee Chair Mary Holtorf said she has received many compliments regarding Landry’s assistance to Main Street businesses and dealings with visitors to downtown.

The committee will also ask Town Meeting for $3,000 to cover miscellaneous expenses, including the purchase of new ticket books. Committee member Mark Wright suggested the tickets need to be redesigned.

“The tickets that I’ve received don’t actually say where to pay,” he said. “That’s a problem. And the check boxes for why you’re getting a ticket did not include ‘expired meter.’ There’s nothing there about an expired meter.”

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Smith said the Downtown Parking Benefits District Oversight Committee is also looking for someone to fill an at-large seat. Any Athol resident interested in serving on the panel should email esmith@townofathol.org. The committee meets once a month at Town Hall.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.